At the beginning of March four of our poets were invited by the Kunsthalle Mannheim to recite some of their old poems alongside some of their new ones. The reading took place in the context of the Kunsthalle’s current exhibition ‘Mindbombs’, which focuses on artistic explorations of terrorism. 

Alongside their poems about fleeing their home countries and arriving in Germany, the poets grappled with the term “terrorism” in new poems written specifically for this reading. “It’s easy to sit here and speak about terrorism. / But to live under terrorism is to live under an ax that shatters boulders,” Shahzamir read. 

An audience discussion took place after the reading, centering mostly around the war in Ukraine. The poets spoke about the trains from Ukraine arriving at Berlin Central Station on their way to Mannheim. They expressed gratitude that Ukrainian refugees were being welcomed with open arms, but also drew comparisons to their own arrivals in Berlin. The audience had many questions: they asked, for instance, whether the poets felt at home after a few years here, or whether they still felt they were suspended somehow, floating between two lives.